Ahem…

**tap tap** “This Thing On?”

Sept02

Umm, so yeah. A little radio silence to keep us all guessing. But… I’m baaaa-aacckk!

House00

In my defense, I have a fairly good reason for the silence. A while ago, I alluded to the Very Expensive Thing that we were trying to do. Well, we did it. Mr. Wound Up Tight (also known as Mr. Laid Back) and I did the very expensive thing and are now the proud owners of a 1860 farm house, walking distance to the center of town. This involved packing up all our belongings and making the epic trip 3 miles from our old humble abode in a very luxurious U-haul and unpacking it. This, I should not have been so surprised as I was, turned out to be a very time consuming thing.

Garden02
Garden00

We went ahead and planted a very sophisticated garden, in blue buckets, due to the aforementioned time contraints. We have peppers and cucumbers and eggplants coming out our ears. There are lots of tomatoes, which are slowly turning red (they had an incident involving not enough water on a hot day, but they seem to be recovering).

Sept07

And so it’s been an unending stream of “unpack this! Go to the beach! Unpack this! Buy this! Go on vacation and hike all over the Tetons again! Dye some wool! Knit something!” etc. But I am finally getting to a point where we are starting to get some paint on the walls, furniture of a non-free-college type, and I can take a little breath. I’ve still been biking to work (50th day for the year today) and dying up wool and spinning, and a little knitting. Knitting has been slow because I’m procrastinating and fighting with the splitty laddery alpaca, but I’m sure it’ll be lovely when it’s done.

So sorry for the silence, hopefully I’ll be back on a more regular basis soon, and you can watch me run around like a chicken without a head doing project after project before falling into bed at the end of the day. However, tonight, I’m parking myself here, on my back porch (ahem, I’ll just say it again, since it may have escaped your notice… MY BACK PORCH!! THE ONE THAT IS ALL MINE!!) and work on the splitty sleeve and drink some yummy stuff.

Sept01

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Bicycle Commuting

So on Friday, I hit my 40th commute by bicycle this year. I’ve been driving in once a week or less and I know it’s trite and everyone says it, but commuting by bicycle changes your perspective. It has become instinctive to take my bike out of the basement in the morning and put it back when I get home.

bike edit

There are a lot of things that I never anticipated. When I get home, I am much more relaxed than when I drive. I think spending 40 minutes alert and trying not to get run over stops the musing over the day, frustrations that I had at work, or fuming over dumb drivers. There just isn’t time for that, you just ride, watch for cars, and ride more. I take the long way home (19-27 miles) home a few times a week, and pass cows, sheepies, sometimes both. Fields, historic houses, so pleasant. Driving has become the exception, and I find myself wondering what will I do when it isn’t summer and it is dark and cold, driving will become normal again, and I am a little sad about that.

Cambridge_walk_july_2011 (6)
One thing I never thought about before was the smells. One thing that is drastically different on a bicycle is that you can smell things. In fact I think this is, besides the sheepies, my favorite part of bicycling to work and around town. People mowing lawns, charcoal barbecues being lit, the pizza place at mile 4.5 on the short way home. One thing that has always for me marked the seasons is distinctive smells. The smell of leaves in the fall, the first night it smells like snow, fresh spring smells, salt air at the beach. Even the M&M’s in the silver baby bowls at Christmas have a distinctive smell (I think it’s the silver bowls, but it could be just M&M’s at christmastime).

Cambridge_walk_july_2011 (2)

This year I have noticed the lilacs, the charcoal grills, and this week some flower that I vaguely thing is honeysuckle has bloomed at a few points on my ride home. Even the time Waltham Center smelled like sour milk (not sure what that was, but it was very distinctive) I am glad for, I would have missed it completely in a car.

It has slowed my pace down. I don’t listen to the news on the way home, and unless I check I don’t know what the stocks did that day. I say hello to the Hispanic guy on a yellow bike that I see in the same spot by the rail road tracks most days on his way to work. The weather is good most days, even when it’s raining. In short, it has greatly improved my days. 1100 miles so far, hopefully at least as much again before I have to put it on the trainer for the winter.

Cambridge_walk_july_2011 (7)

I was always a runner, and I thought of myself as a runner. Long distance running was where it was at, and where it would still be at if my adductor would hold itself together. But I am beginning to think I am a distance traveler instead. I am still sad when I see people out for runs that I can not go on, but I am generally satisfied and very happy about my rides and glad for them in ways I didn’t expect. Where one door closes, another one opens. And for anyone thinking, even mildly considering a Brooks Saddle, I say GET IT NOW. You will not regret it. I’ve had it a little over a week. It was comfy from day 1. I’ve done 200 miles, including a 45 mile flat and a 40 mile hilly ride on it so far and it has only gotten better. I am so in love with it. It goes so well with my bike, which as it turns out is exactly the bike I’d be if I were in fact a bike. I thought I wanted a new bike, because those are shiny and new and who doesn’t want a new of what they have. My bike is heavy. It has fenders. It is rugged – built for cyclocross and trails and jumping over barriers. I thought I wanted something sleek and fast and light. But as it turns out, I am slightly heavy, rugged – not mt bike rugged, but cross country rugged, camping/touring rugged – and all it wanted was a handmade, leather seat to point that fact out to me. If I were a bike, I’d have a handmade leather seat for sure. We’re soul mates. It’s color is officially listed as gangrene. Who wouldn’t want to ride her!

brooks saddle (5)

Friday Night … socks?

Cherry is cute, fits and because I’m the laziest person ever, not yet blocked… soon. But we have booked our two week vacation to glorious Montana, which will involve a lot of camping, hiking, and Greg Fishing… which means I will have plenty of knitting time and no space for it. In preparation I’m going to spin up a bunch of sock yarn so I at least have something to do while we’re fishing!

Here is some freckle face fiber merino in Wild Strawberry and the orange in it is really awesome!

fffstrawberry wool

fffstrawberry singles

And I’m knitting up some socks with some handspun from earlier and they’re very entertaining!

abigail socks

I swear at some point I’ll get that Cherry finished for real (It even has buttons. I’m seriously the most lazy ever.)

I haven’t mentioned my bike commuting recently (or anything, because I’ve been the laziest blogger ever also). But, it’s going great. I’ve so far as of today, commuted to work 38 times this year, and saved $82 in gas. Also of exciting note, I’ve ridden 1025 miles so far this year, which I’m insanely proud of, since it surpasses my previous total highest mileage for a YEAR! I celebrated by rewarding myself with a new saddle, I tried out a bunch and settled on a fancy copper riveted Brooks B17, I can’t wait to get it on and broken in! I splurged for the fancy version, because people say these are indestructible, and if I’m going to have it forever, I want the pretty one! When I get it on and together I have a post in mind all about how the biking has been going.

Happy 4th weekend, USA!

Walking Around

I’ve been doing some wooly things, miraculously, but have no photos. I’ve also been doing a lot of walking around, reveling in the not-snow and warm weather. I’ve been bike commuting and getting an inordinate amount of pleasure from it. It’s surprising me. It’s been too hot to do much this week, but I have a photo journal of last weekend to entertain you on this great Friday-eve.

One place we enjoy walking is around the community garden at a local university here. It never ceases to amaze me that people can actually grow things. So far we haven’t killed our lettuce, but our basil is sad, and the mint never did come back. I did in fact kill that somehow…

thistle

iris in Cgarden

strawberries

Someone is having great success with strawberries, I wish it were me! I’ve been eating them like a strawberry fiend though. They’ve been delicious.

Possibly because I’ve been doing so much of it, but I’ve been noticing bikes everywhere lately, and I like it. I’ve run a few errands on my two-cycle, and I find that it’s fun. Fun, like little kid fun, like I haven’t had fun on a bike in a long time. I found one with a fantastic old lisence plate on a rusty fender. The bike had seen better days, but it was damn cool anyways. So far I’ve biked in 4-5 days for the past 7 weeks and it changes your perspective. And allows for more yummy foods 🙂

bikes at tufts

bike liscence plate

We finished off the weekend with a nap and a read at a nearby park. The weather was so fantastic, you just had to be outside.

mural

water fountain

reading at the park

There was also a cricket game going on, but every time we thought about going over to see what it was all about, it was a water break or end of game or something. I still don’t know how to play cricket but it looked like they were having fun. That’s about it, hopefully I’ll have a sweater to display soon!

Ode to Running

I have posts about wool and knitting coming up, I swear. But today I wanted to mention the end of bike to work week.

There are a million things I don’t know about myself, a fact which confounds me. But by the time I’m 29, I am starting to realize a few things. I like to be around people but don’t like to be on teams. I am all about fairness and goals. I like to push myself physically for reasons that make little sense to others but somehow make sense to me. I like communities. I like technicalities. I don’t like things that are all about gadgets. I like history. I like feeling like I’m part of history. I am astounded by the subtleties of history and how it continues old things in new ways. I like science and math, especially in the experimental sense. I love spreadsheets. I don’t like stupid fiddling. I like things that serve there purpose specifically and the intricacies of why you’d pick that thing over another. I like things that are unique, in the ‘that suits you/fits you/works for you’ way, not in the ‘oh, that’s… unique’ way. I like things that are natural. I don’t like the latest fad.

For these reasons, I was lousy on softball teams (I went to one game and two practices… I was a lousy teammate. I I hate the prospect of possibly letting the whole team down by my girly swings and inability to come close to a ball never mind catch it). I love that the work you put into a training season or a sweater is evident in a personal record or a perfect sweater. I love marathoning. I love the running and knitting communities, people who ‘get it’ when the rest of the world is like “wtf man.” I love the technical training for marathons and the fitting of knits. I don’t have a fancy knitting case, but rather one made by me for exactly my needles – or more specifically my needles and those of my great Aunt Ester, who’s knitting and embroidery things still live in the same psychedelic knitting purses-turned-bags they’ve lived in the past 30-50 years.. I love the Boston Marathon and learning about traditional knits. I love seeing traditional knits done in a new way that normal people would wear. I get a familiar feeling when weddings, deaths and births happen, like this is the way things should be, this has been happening for thousands of years and a warm cozy (and sad but realistic in the case of deaths) feeling comes over me. I like graphing my miles run and my knitting charts and have spreadsheets galore for every possible thing. I don’t like sewing because if your corners don’t match or the left side is sloppier than the right, it’s not ok, it can’t be blocked, you can’t fudge it. I love that running requires sneakers, a pair of shorts, and a sports bra, knitting requires string and sticks. Even spinning requires fluff and a stick with a disk on one end. And Give me Wool or Give me Death (none of that stupid plastic stuff).

I’ve gone through many hobbies and goals and the ones that keep me going, in my soul, are knitting and running. Knitting is still there in all it’s glory. All of a sudden, on September 3rd, 2009, I picked up a rug after a hard run, and after 2 MRI’s and 3 doctors have ascertained that I tore my adductor tendon in a way that it just.won’t.heal. 1.5 years, a total of probably 6 months of PT and 3 doctors later, I’m finally in some sort of final phase of mourning over running. I will never, very likely, run a marathon again. I will possibly be running every other day for 5 miles maybe at a time. And I will be thankful for that. Running has been my stress relief, my savior, my friend through many many things. And to say I’ve been lost without it is an understatement. I cried for a week straight when it tore for the third time last Thanksgiving. I went for a final run on my birthday, Nov, 27th, knowing it would hurt like hell after but it was my birthday and damn if I wasn’t going to run.

While most people’s lemons is their doctor saying they really should get some exercise, how about running, my lemons were my doctor saying, I’m really sorry, you can run, eventually, but not like you think of running. Most people’s lemonade upon learning of an adductor tear is aww, shucks, I better get back to the couch. Mine is my bike. I’ve tried biking but it never gave me the euphoria, the total and complete happiness that running gave me. I’ve never gotten that, but I’ve admittedly never tried that hard because, well I’d switch back to running. This time I can’t. I’ve tried weights, which helped my physique but did little for my mental sanity. I need long distances, long times, speed, distance, and rhythm. I need something to keep my body busy while my mind wanders. Running was as much or more for my mind as for my body.

So at the end of April, I decided to try the bike for real. Bike commuting. Great for environment, money, and body. But I need it to be more, I need it to be my sanity. This past week was bike to work week, and the weather was lousy. I have, however, procured a fantastic don’t-kill-me-yellow jacket which as it turns out is waterproof, and my husband has a cycling cap I am borrowing and as it turns out biking in the rain is possible and even pleasant. It leads to you looking like this when you go to bring your bike into the basement where it lives.

rainy day biking

But while wandering around a neighborhood in search of a less pot-holed road, in the rain, on Thursday, I finally got a glimmer of that pure joy that I could produce almost always by running. So I’m hopeful that this will work out, that it’s just a matter of conditioning and habit. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit. I am at the cape every weekend in the summer. I wear red pants every Wednesday for the past 6 years, I never leave the house without some knitting, we have homemade pizza every Friday, and I used to run 5 days a week rain or shine, 5 am or 6 pm. Here’s hoping biking can give me a little back. By the end of my 4th week of biking regularly, almost 400 miles later, I must admit, it’s no running, but my biking becoming more me, I’m more comfortable on it, and biking to work beats the pants off of sitting in traffic (and the extra 500 calories don’t hurt). This might just work out. I’m aiming for a century (100 mile ride in a day) by the fall, and while I have no doubts about my ability to complete it (I still maintain that anyone without a bum leg or knee is fully capable or running 26.2 miles with proper training, the question is in the desire) it will feel hella good to be back in the game again.

Great End To the Week

This week was a pretty good week. Firstly, it went quickly. Gotta love a week when you’re surprised it’s Friday already instead of the usual where it’s ‘only Thursday.’ I think this is at least in part because of my bike commuting. 4 days riding in on the twocycle, total of 96 miles biked (this includes two ‘long way home’ days) and re-discovering a fantastic stretch of road that I intend to make part of my normal ‘long ways home.’ I really look forward to the ride home, which I think makes the day more tolerable. And, being the queen of efficiency that I am, I am feeling rather smugly clever to be combining commuting and working out, this pleases me to no end. I am jealous of every runner I see, but I can’t run right now, so I shall bike my tushy off. Speaking of which, I’ve ordered a few new pairs of shorts. I have two good ones and two that make me hate life. I’ve also ordered some magic stuff which should make these tolerable but generally speaking, I think your clothes should be comfortable, otherwise what’s the point?

may13

I’ve also made mad progress on Cherry. I kept intending to pick it up for just a minute and then it was bedtime, but it’s almost to the armholes and I’m still in love with it.

fishing widow

Today’s weather was fantastic. Greg is off fishing, so I’m home, the laundry is half done, dishes are done, pizza is in the oven, and I’m getting ready to settle down with what’s on the table: a beer, Cherry, and my sheepie book.

in sheeps clothing

And the reason is… tomorrow is New Hampshire Sheep and Wool!! Co-workers laugh but I’m freakishly excited. Looking for my second fleece to process (one without guard hairs this time, thankyouverymuch) and whatever else I find that suits my fancy. I can’t wait. Off to check the pizza, happy Friday!